WILD AFRICAN QUEST – 6
25-27 December 2019
Christmas Day and the route continued north towards Tanzania, skirting the lower border of the DRC to Mpika and then head North to Kasama. Given their proximity to the massive Chishimba Falls they diverted to spend their night camping there and finally get a bath Zambia style in the river. The Bemba people regard the Chishimba Falls as one of the most sacred places of power.
“The riding is nice but it’s all tar at the moment, no choice, however the scenery is spectacular with thick bush lining the road in places. As for the heat, the best investment I made so far is running tops, as I soak them with water and then put them on; they keep you cool for miles.”
Boxing day and before them lay a stretch of tar and then a long and dusty road north to cross the border. The trouble of course on the long stretches of road is staying awake and at one point we got a lovely clip from Morgan…”Okay so here we are on the road to Mbala, and old poor Glennis couldn’t keep his eyes open and here you are, he is having a little power nap. We are parked on the side of the road here but it is safety first, You can’t fall asleep and go into the ‘shlateen.’ …..It is so quiet here …….” (For those of you who missed the video, see under comments here)
Morgan had chosen to take the old Stevenson Road through Mbala north to the border of Tanzania and then on to Lake Tanganyika.
In the early days of European exploration the only way to get to the lake was via an overland road from Dar es Salem to Ujiji. However, it was also a Muslim controlled trade route, which meant that missionaries and British traders were cut off from the lake area. Then James Stevenson, a Scottish manufacturer showed support for the work of the missionaries and trade and so, after a sizable donation from Stevenson to the London Missionary Society, for which the society also agreed to send a small steamship (The SS Good News) via the Stevenson Road, construction of the road, began on 1881.
Stevenson died in 1885 and large parts of the road were incomplete however his name lived on in the road which over time was carved out. Today of course this road has largely been either replaced by tarmac or bypassed altogether leaving the most intact stretch of road about 1km North of Mbala to Cemetery Hill.
“Choosing the out of the way border town of Chomba which is 35km north of Mbala, we arrived to find a real sleepy hollow. We had to send some kids to find the border officials as there were none to be seen. It was a pretty painless crossing and everyone at the Kaseya border was happy and friendly.
The road has not been maintained for many years and is very bumpy and slow going for the full 35km. Then after the border crossing it was wicked riding for around 80km of red packed dirt. It’s challenging riding especially when its’ wet. You have to concentrate a hell of a lot. When you approach a big pothole you have to hit is square on. If you hit it on the side your wheel wants to wash away on the slippery mud and you will end of on your head. So after 250km you are pretty tired but hey, it was a reprive though after miles and miles of tar the days before.”
Late afternoon and the guys pulled into the Tanzania town of Sumbawanga. So far so good until a picture of Morgan’s right eye arrived showing quite a swelling. A quick diagnosis with Dr on call for Morgan’s trip, Dr Johan Bouwer, eye ointment prescribed and they were off to find a pharmacy.
Tomorrow? Lake Tanganyika!
Blog by Debra Bouwer